Last week when Derek Jeter was batting .361/.395/.528 I hypothesized that his hot start wouldn’t last, that it was a mirage. My logic was simple. Jeter was crushing left handed pitching to the totally unsustainable tune of a .617 wOBA. Against righties, however, his wOBA was an awful .272. Given that most pitchers are right handed, and that Jeter’s decline the past couple seasons has come against right handed pitching, logic dictated he couldn’t sustain his hot hitting. Once he began facing a more typical number of righties his overall numbers would begin to suffer.
So, here we are, a week later, and Jeter is batting .382/.411/.618. His wOBA is .432. In the past week Jeter’s number have gotten … better. That’s a lot of left-handed pitchers, right? That’s only partially true. While it’s true that Jeter has faced lefties in ten of the Yankees’ games and 24 of his plate appearances, he has now faced righties in 50 of his plate appearances. His season numbers against both types of pitching have begun to normalize. He’s still clobbering lefties. His wOBA is .595 against them, which is astounding (and unsustainable). Against righties, however, he’s started to hit, a lot. Jeter’s wOBA is now .365 against righties. That means that since I wrote my last post suggesting Jeter would not be able to sustain his hitting overall because he’s hit right handed pitching so poorly Derek has improved his numbers against righties almost astronomically. He’s gone from having a .272 wOBA against them to a .365 wOBA in a single week. That’s impressive.
1999 was the best season of Jeter’s career, when had a wOBA of .428. It is unlikley, therefore, that Jeter will be able to keep up his current torrid hitting. It would mean that he has the best season of his career in his late thirties. That’s unlikely. However, if Jeter is in the process of putting together a come back season he will need to do it the way he did when he was younger, crushing lefties, and hitting well against righties. Last week my hunch was that when Jeter’s numbers normalized his weakness against righties would be exposed. Instead, his hot hitting has started to benefit him when he’s facing righties. Derek has taken one step toward putting together a come back month, if it is too soon to say if this is a come back season, and one step closer to proving me wrong. I’ve never been happier to be wrong.
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